Humble Contributions to the Peoples' History

Posts tagged ‘Social Justice’

Photo Challenge, Quest: Hero’s Journey for Social Justice

WordPress assigned this week’s photo challenge as “quest,” and when I think about quest, I immediately recall Joseph Campbell’s PBS series on the hero’s journey. The adventure begins in the everyday world, when a herald calls the hero or heroine to action. Mentors along the way reassure the hero, as the quest continues. The heroine is tested as she faces a final ordeal. The way home can be fraught with danger, but in the end, the heroine has succeeded because she has had the courage to stand up for a noble cause.

Those who make the journey on the path toward social justice face enormous odds to create a society that respects and cares for all people. Ordinary people are drawn to speak up for what’s right, marching in the streets, often proclaiming an unpopular belief. Detractors label them as “troublemakers” and “rabble-rousers.” Authorities engage armed legions to contain and control demonstrators, even when protesters are unarmed and peaceful. The media catch one individual engaging in undesirable behavior and then demonize the entire protest.  Despite all obstacles, the hero persists and continues the mission to create a just society.

Weekly Photo Challenge, Quest

Photo Challenge: Spare

Say, don’t you remember, they called me Al
It was Al all the time
Why don’t you remember, I’m your pal
Say buddy, can you spare a dime?
–E. Harburg, J. Gorney

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West Philadelphia, Summer 2015

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Spare

Democracy Spring: The Philadelphia Story

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On the lawn in front of Independence Hall, Philadelphia, a crowd gathered to support and to send off 150 activists, who plan to walk the 140 miles to Washington, D.C., launching a civil disobedience campaign, Democracy Spring. The goal of the march: “Congress must act now to end the corruption of money in politics and ensure free and fair elections.”

The enthusiastic crowd responded to a series of speakers and performances that called on elected officials to support their initiative, an equal voice for everyone. The rally is Washington is set for April 11 at the Capitol Building and organizers have said that thousands have pledged to sit-in for seven days. Over 100 organizations have signed on in support of Democracy Spring.

Overturning the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which has resulted in big-money interests buying elections, corrupting the political process, is fundamental to keeping democracy sound.

In Remembrance of Megan

Megan

Megan McFadden

March 9, 1981-August 29, 2015

IMG_1803When someone so young passes from this earth, the shock reverberates for days, weeks and months, as it seems impossible that Megan will no longer be with us.

As Megan came into my life, I watched her as a year went by, and I saw how she was working through the difficulties of her past to move forward into a new day. We thought this new beginning would be bringing her success with her art. 

We will miss you, Megan. We’re so sorry.

Her Father’s Eulogy

When you have a drug-addicted child or sibling, you live in dread of the phone call that tells you she has overdosed and died in some abandoned house. My son Jim, her best friend, and I got that call on August 29th about Megan.

Rather than mourn over Megan’s tragic death at 34, let’s celebrate what was wonderful about her. She was a sweet, beautiful, and funny little girl. She had an adorable little speech impediment until she had it fixed at therapy in first grade. We had a squirrel that visited us on the deck of our apartment almost daily. We asked her for a good name for him. She said, “Mistoow Sqwool.” From that good day on, he was Mr. Squirrel, “Mistoow Sqwool” to Megan.

Megan was all her life a gifted artist and was passionate about it and lived for it. She was enrolled in school to pursue and enrich her passion, but was taken from us just before she was to begin.

She left a great legacy with her son Michael, who has brought great joy to every person he’s known in his 13 years. Good job, Megs.

The only consolation that we, her family, friends, and all the people who knew her, was that she was a person of great worth. What we can take from her death so young, is the knowledge that her pain and struggles are over, and the belief that she will find the peace with her heavenly Father that she was unable to find in this life.

Pro-Act Recovery Walk, Philadelphia, September 19, 2015

Trailer

 

Philadelphia Photo League

Philadelphia Photo League Photographers, Konrad Jones, Mike Browna, Spencer Lewis

Philadelphia Photo League Photographers, Konrad Jones, Mike Browna and Spencer Lewis

Several week’s after Megan’s passing, I received a notice from the Philadelphia Photo League about an upcoming event, the Pro-Act Recovery Walk. In 2012 a group of area photographer/activists, who were committed to social change through documentary photography, established a mission to assist civic organizations to affect change through photography. Photo League members have photographed the Recovery Walk in past years and shared their photographs with the Pennsylvania Recovery Organization–Achieving Community Together. By participating in this year’s photography project, I hope that I might help in some small way to document the event.

Morning has Broken

As I approached the staging area at the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing, the sky appeared gray and dark as the fog began lifting from the Ben Franklin Bridge. As the presenter led a prayer from the stage, the clouds opened to a magical reflection on the river. Sun beams streamed down to the water–it was as if the universe was blessing the gathering.

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Participants in their colorful t-shirts began gathering in front of the stage. The photographers took photos from the vantage of the stage, and then we split up to cover different aspects of the walk. I took a position at the start of the parade on the Chestnut Street Bridge under the  balloon arch. As marchers began to stream under the arch, I began to video the walk. What amazed me was the diversity within the crowd: young and old, men and women, abled and disabled and all ethnicities represented.

Yellow shirt copy

The participants kept coming, walking, cheering, as those standing on the sidelines clapped.  Group after group, representing organizations advocating for recovery, passed in front of me. These people have endured the  challenges of addiction. Society could mediate these tragedies by implementing social policies that bring people out of addiction without stigma. To be immersed in this experience became a humbling moment, realizing that these warriors are ready to continue their fight for freedom from alcohol and drugs. Last year 600 people died from drug overdoses. It seems that a tainted batch took Megan as well as other victims, one evening in August.

Will we stand with the 25,000 Pro-Act crusaders? Our society failed Megan, we cannot fail again.

Video of Walk

Links

Recovery Walks

Thousands march in support of and hope for addiction recovery

ProAct: Ambassadors for Recovery

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Photo Challenge: The Unsettling Nature of Weapons

When I view guns, the visions that come to me are the imagined stories embedded in the metal. An object shaped into a weapon extinguishes life’s light and holds the memory of someone’s loss–a son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister. We don’t know the history of these guns, but we do know that misery accompanied their journey.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Creepy

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Writing on the Wall?

Almost every civilization, including our democratic society, has constructed walls, mostly for keeping the “other” out. Sometimes the “other” is an enemy, where conquering, exploiting and enslaving citizens becomes the objective. In other cases, walls are built to keep out those whom society deems as undesirable.

A wall never works. Technology eventually catches up and produces mechanisms to scale the ramparts. Past civilizations continued to build higher and stronger fortresses, but eventually these walls were breached and societies fall, as opponents becomes hell-bent in destroying the barrier.  Walls carve a separation that perpetuates the wounds on both sides, and the effects of the wall continue to influence people’s lives in terrifying ways.

Our ancestors have been on both sides of the wall, as conquer and vanquished. Will we ever be able to deconstruct the barriers in our minds to realize peaceful coexistence with our neighbors and put a stop to our perpetual compulsion of building and destroying walls?

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
–Robert Frost, Mending Wall

St. Malo

St. Malo, walled city in Brittany, France. Built in the 12thC, rebuilt in the 17thC, destroyed during WWII, and again rebuilt by 1960.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wall

Gone, but Not Forgotten: Incident at Bugtussel

I studied the ground before me and was startled at what I saw . . . for over forty years, the land had held the memory of the little house that once stood there.

Outline of house

The message is subtle, nothing of exceptional beauty or unique character in this photograph, and I missed what the earth had preserved the first time I looked over the landscape.  In an upcoming blog post, Racial Incident at Bugtussel, which I am still researching, I retell a story that happened in my hometown of Springfield, Pennsylvania, when local authorities bulldozed a poor, African-American man’s home to the ground, killing his cats and leaving him homeless.

<a href=”http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/gone-but-not-forgotten/”>Gone, But Not Forgotten</a>

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